Fun and Free Things to Do in Niagara Falls

The spectacular views aren’t the only pleasures at Niagara Falls USA. From outdoor winter fun to al fresco art, this is how you see Niagara Falls on a budget.

PLAN A SELFIE SCAVENGER HUNT

The winter months offer great opportunities to score that perfect Niagara Falls shot — it’s quieter, so it’ll be easier to snag panoramic photos. There are plenty of photo-worthy spots in Niagara Falls State Park proper, but there are several other drool-worthy views around the county (hint: they don’t call them Great Lakes for nothing!). Use our roundup of the best views of the Falls and the most scenic spots in the area to plan your Falls photo safari — bonus points if you manage to capture the Falls in all their frozen glory!

SNOWSHOE ACROSS THE STATE PARK

Sure, this one’s snow-dependent — but this is Western New York (read: Your odds are good). The folks at the Cave of the Winds Pavilion will happily loan you a pair of snowshoes to explore the park the winter way — you’re sure to work up an appetite! (New York-style pizza, anyone?)

GET YOUR ART FIX

Need a dose of culture? Head to Lockport to browse the galleries at the lovely Kenan Center, an 1800s Victorian home-turned-arts center on 25 acres of manicured grounds. You’ll find exhibitions by local and regional artists as well as stunning Victorian-era furnishings and décor. Be sure to check out the events calendar before planning your visit.

BE FREE AS A BIRD

Niagara Falls’ abundance of feathered creatures makes the region a wildlife wonderland for bird lovers. The Falls are a haven for birding, with species ranging from gulls in colossal colonies to geese enjoying the view during migration. You may even spot a bald eagle; over the past decade, the American icon has made a comeback in the region. Get that camera on zoom!

EXPERIENCE NIAGARA FALLS AT NIGHT

Welcome to the best show in town! Niagara Falls’ nightly illumination spectacle transforms the natural wonder into a true rainbow river! Colors flicker and, depending on when you visit, you may even catch a special event display, when the Falls change colors in support of various causes and significant milestones.

STROLL COLORFUL ALFRESCO GEMS

Looking for a hidden treasure in downtown Niagara Falls, NY? Take the alley off 425 Third St., and discover the most vibrant urban surprise: Art Alley NF. The public mural project features an eclectic slideshow of local street artists. Inspired? Keep exploring the public art scene by checking out these other spots around the county.

WALK THROUGH AN OLD-GROWTH FOREST

Just across the Niagara Scenic Parkway from Whirlpool State Park lies another state park called DeVeaux Woods, which is home to 10 acres of old-growth forest teeming with majestic red oaks and fiery sugar maples. A short, easy hike leads you beneath the canopy — it’s spectacular in the fall, and a good glimpse at what the area would have looked like centuries ago. There’s a new bark park at DeVeaux Woods, as well, so feel free to bring your furry friend along!

GET MERRY AT THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

Each year, from the Saturday before Thanksgiving to the eve of the Epiphany, Our Lady of Fatima Shrine goes aglow for the Fatima Shrine Festival of Lights. The event features some 75 twinkling displays to wander through, with the highlight being the shrine itself, decorated with a life-size nativity scene and festooned in Christmas foliage.

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